Morning Coffee, issue #4

June 27, 2015

Another week went by, and it was a big one. Millions of people all over the US are celebrating not one, but two major rulings by the Supreme Court, which upheld the rights to affordable healthcare and equality in marriage for everyone. These were two historic events with the potential to transform the entire nation, and the fact that they both occurred within mere days of each other is remarkable. Just after being hit by tragedy, the American people once again have reasons to dream of a better future.

It’s still early to fully appreciate the repercussions of these rulings, but the effect is already being felt with force all over the Internet, and it’s been fascinating to watch.

Unfortunately the rest of the world wasn’t so lucky during the week, as tragedy has once again struck in the form of terrorist attacks. This time the attacks were carried out in three different continents simultaneously and left behind over 60 dead. I keep trying to express my disgust at this nonsensical horror, but words fail me.

Now let’s turn to brighter topics. The good news is, there were plenty of interesting things going on throughout the week to keep us busy.

One such thing happening in the creative sphere was Shawn Blanc officially launching The Focus Course. This project has been over a year in the making, and Shawn has poured everything he has into it. The Focus Course is clearly his most ambitious project yet, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Of course, the week in Apple was marked by the controversy raised by Taylor Swift on account of Apple Music’s payouts — or lack thereof — to artists during the free 3-month trial every customer gets upon signing up for the service. Apple quickly ceded and said they would pay labels and artists during the free trial, which was enough to convince Swift to change her mind about releasing her latest album, 1989, on the service. Still, this whole affair has prompted many people to discuss the balance of power in today’s music industry, and whether the current situation is healthy. Those are very legitimate concerns, and I look forward to seeing how the industry evolves now that the switch to streaming-first services is all but complete.

Besides the Apple Music controversy, we also got some great reviews of the new MacBook. I had been looking forward to two of them in particular, and they didn’t disappoint. Both Matt Gemmell and Ben Brooks shared their thoughts on the latest Apple computer and, though they have markedly different approaches, both made some excellent points about the device and its intended audience.

Now, as usual, let’s dive into some of this week’s most interesting pieces of writing.

Issue #4: On climbing El Capitan, setting expectations, the lead up to Wimbledon, fighting Uber, and comparing portrait lenses

This week I stray a bit from the usual topics on Analog Senses, but hopefully the content will remain just as compelling. Enjoy.

Climbing El Capitan’s Nose | Matt and Joanne Stamplis →

The Nose is perhaps the most iconic rock climbing route in the entire world. It’s 1,000 feet high and usually takes multiple days to ascend. Matt and Joanne Stamplis attempted the climb back in 2009, and they took some pretty incredible pictures along the way. I was getting goosebumps just by looking at the images, but the actual narration is just as great. It took them four days and seven gallons of water to climb The Nose, but climb it they did. What an awesome story.

Climb Yosemite’s El Capitan Like a Rock Star—From Your Computer | Andrew Bisharat →

Speaking of El Capitan, it is now possible to experience the adventure from the comfort and safety of your home. Google has digitally mapped the entire route using the same technology they use in Street View, and the result is incredibly cool. This is a great way to complement Matt and Joanne’s story.

The tragedy of small expectations (and the trap of false dreams) | Seth Godin →

Seth Godin makes an astute point, as usual:

Expectations that don’t match what’s possible are merely false dreams. And expectations that are too small are a waste. We need teachers and leaders and peers who will help us dig in deeper and discover what’s possible, so we can push to make it likely.

Transforming the possible into the likely is a pretty substantial leap. Successfully making that leap depends on the culture around us, which is why doing everything we can to dispel myths about what can’t be done is so important.

How Math’s most famous proof nearly broke | Peter Brown →

I love tales of scientific discovery, and this one’s as good as it gets. Via Tools & Toys.

Essentials | Matt Gemmell →

I really enjoyed Matt’s answer to the old question: “What would you take with you to a desert island?”. Or, to put it another way, what is really essential to you? There’s nothing like packing for an upcoming trip to ponder these questions. I have my list, and no doubt you have yours. In my own case, much like in Matt’s, I’ve found that as I go through life, the list not only keeps changing, it also keeps getting shorter.

How Arthur Ashe became the only black man to win the Wimbledon title | Aimee Lewis →

Wimbledon, the most prestigious tournament in the tennis world, in finally upon us and as usual, the BBC will be providing extensive coverage of the event. This piece is one in a series of in-depth looks at the history of the tournament that the BBC is publishing in the lead up to the tournament, which is due to begin on Monday.

The 1975 Wimbledon men’s final pitted two American players against each other: Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe. Ostensibly, these two characters didn’t get along at all, which is why on the day of the match, tension was running high. In the end, the match not only lived up to the expectations, but instantly became one of the all-time classics on the green lawns of the All England Club.

35 facts that prove Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player ever | Chris Chase →

Continuing with the Wimbledon theme, there’s no other player whose game is better attuned to the grass than Roger Federer. In fact, 7 of his record 17 Grand Slam titles came at Wimbledon, and 12 years after lifting his first Wimbledon trophy, he’s still trying to add to the list. Federer may well be the greatest male player of all time, although that question is likely to forever remain unanswered. After all, it’s very difficult to compare players across different eras, because the sport has changed so much since then.

Still, Federer has made a hell of a case for himself, and this piece by Chris Chase shows you why. Some of the numbers in Federer’s career are absolutely staggering, like the fact that he contested 23 straight Grand Slam semifinals, or 18 out 19 straight finals. These numbers are unreal, but perhaps the greatest thing about him is the fact that he’s not done yet.

The original hope | A Demon’s Voice →

My favorite Internet demon reviews one of the greatest films of all time, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. Warning: strong language is frequently used throughout this review.

The long history of the fight against Uber | Om Malik →

Fantastic piece by Om Malik for The New Yorker. Technology enables change to occur swiftly, and sometimes people and entire industries are left behind in the process. Such is the relentless wheel of progress. In a world where instant gratification reigns supreme, traditional businesses are left unable to compete.

Being a conscious consumer goes a long way towards finding a balance, because the truth is, protecting and supporting our local businesses is incredibly important, perhaps now more than ever. I may have a bit of a Luddite in me, but I can’t help but prefer buying my meat in the small shop around the corner, where Luis the butcher greets me by my first name every day. He also keeps a watchful eye on my bike, which is parked right by his shop’s door. Those little things are important to me, even if buying my meat at a supermarket would probably be a bit cheaper.

iOS 9 and Safari View Controller: The future of Web views | Federico Viticci →

Another great in-depth look at a new technology in iOS 9 by Federico Viticci. The new Safari View Controller technology has the potential to vastly improve the experience of using in-app browsers, which are some of the most annoying things left in iOS.

Panasonic Lumix 42.5mm f/1.7 review and comparison with Olympus 45mm f/1.8 vs Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 | Mathieu Gasquet →

Just two days after my review of the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens for Tools & Toys, Mathieu from MirrorLessons put its main competitor to the test. His results all but confirmed my initial impressions: that despite being four years newer, the Panasonic lens doesn’t provide any meaningful optical improvements over the Olympus. Still, it’s an excellent lens in its own right, and perhaps the better choice for owners of Panasonic bodies due to the built-in optical image stabilization, so go check it out.


This week has been pretty interesting to me, personally. Early in the week Tools & Toys published my review of the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens, which I believe is some of my best work yet. This one took quite a bit of effort to put together because I’d never done a lens review before, and there were lots of small details to get right. It was also incredibly fun to do, and I hope you find it interesting.

I also dedicated quite a bit of time to explore some of the incredible photography exhibits that are being shown in many galleries across Madrid this month. It’s the 2015 edition of the PHotoEspaña International Festival of photography and visual arts, and there are some really incredible galleries to visit. I’ve barely even scratched the surface of the festival and I’ve already discovered a few artists whose work I wasn’t familiar with, but who have blown my mind.

Take Martín Chambi, for example. This Peruvian photographer documented Peru and its society during the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, and his pictures are breathtaking. The gallery I visited held a few of his most famous images, but the best of all was that these were not scanned and then digitally printed copies, but actual optical prints made from the original glass plate negatives by none other than Juan Manuel Castro Prieto, one of the most renowned darkroom artists in Spain. The results are positively mesmerizing.

Or take the amazing exhibit “Las Reglas del Juego” (the rules of the game) by Chema Madoz, whose surreal images have a unique way of teasing viewers and forcing them to fill in the gaps by themselves. The following video is in Spanish, but provides a great look at some of Madoz’s iconic images:

These are just two examples, but there are many others all across town, and I can’t wait to check out as many of them as possible.

Other than that, yesterday was Apple Watch launch day in Spain. I’m not sure this deserves a finally, but it sure as hell feels like it. This was probably the most delayed Apple product to arrive to Spain since the original iPhone — which never actually arrived to Spain, by the way. I’ll be going to my local Apple Store in a couple days to check it out and try on a few different models, and then I’ll decide whether or not to buy one. Right now I’m definitely leaning towards yes, but I don’t want to make a final decision until I see it in person. I’ll keep you posted.

I believe that about does it for the week. It’s exactly 14:30 in the afternoon and I’m yet to have lunch, so my stomach is getting impatient. Writing these issues keeps taking longer than I initially anticipated, so perhaps I should try and change the name to something more appropriate, like “Mid-day Appetizer”. Or perhaps I should just have coffee for lunch.

As always, thanks very much for reading, and have a great weekend.